“This is what people are struggling with now and it gives chizuk to others to read about it. To pretend these issues don’t exist does a disservice to everyone”
No Comparisons [Inbox / Issue 936]
I have never attempted to write a letter to the Inbox since I believed that anything I could say, someone else will write better. However, last week’s letter claiming that losing a child is unequivocally worse than watching a child leave the path prompted me to finally write a letter.
Unfortunately, I am in the unique position (I hope) where I have both lost a child and watched my progeny leave the path I marked out for them. While it is true that I cannot have any more deep discussions with my oldest son, nor see how he progresses as an adult, I take comfort in the thought that he passed away completely pure, enjoying his Olam Haba.
On the contrary, while I do maintain a good relationship with those who are forging their own path, it pains me to know that their neshamah is suffering and due to their choices may suffer even more, while I can do little to change this.
The bottom line is that we can’t compare. Each nisayon was created for the person going through it. Let’s just show compassion to others for their nisayon.
Cloaked in Nature [Inbox / Issues 936]
I have been reading the feedback about children from “broken homes” being declined for shidduchim.
There are so many families that are being told no when it comes to shidduchim, not just children from “broken homes” — families that have children off the derech, families that have illness, families that have no parnassah, families that have background stories.
The yesod we all have to remember is that Hashem runs this world to look like teva. So, Hashem makes circumstances happen so that we get noes b’derech hateva. But what we need to remember is that the child is not engaged because Hashem decided it is not the right time yet. Blaming circumstances for the noes is forgetting where the noes really came from.
My wonderful aunt once said it to me in one sentence. Her oldest child was not well and I asked her if she was having a hard time with shidduchim because of it. She answered, “If the other side says no, that means that shidduch is not bashert for us. So what’s the difference why they are saying no?”
It is a big nisayon to keep on getting noes and not feel if the situation were different we would be getting yeses. If you can really internalize it, it will give you such menuchas hanefesh!
May we be zocheh to make simchahs, easily, b’karov.
S. Weingarten, Monsey
Share the Evidence [Outlook / Issue 936]
I understand that injustice needs to be called out regardless of the identity of the perpetrator. But when I hear Tucker Carlson and others blaming every ill of society on George Soros, I begin to suspect an element of anti-Semitism. George Soros has become the Emmanuel Goldstein of our time, a convenient Jewish scapegoat upon whom to pin the blame for all that we find wrong in the world.
Therefore I was surprised to read the following in Yonoson Rosenblum’s article of November 16: “[C]rime has returned to 1990s levels, largely fueled by no-cash bail laws and George Soros-sponsored district attorneys eager not to prosecute...”
Mr. Rosenblum should either share his evidence that the man is largely responsible for an increase in crime or retract his slander against him.
Boruch Yonah Lipton
Yonoson Rosenblum responds:
Thank you for your letter. Let us first dismiss any presumption that criticism of George Soros is rooted in anti-Semitism. It is no more anti-Semitic to criticize Soros than it is racist to criticize particular blacks or black organizations for their actions. Neither religion not skin color afford immunity from criticism.
Those who point out the close connection between the Black Lives Matter movement and its leaders and the BDS movement are not racists by virtue of that fact. Ex-Princeton professor Joshua Katz did not become a racist for arguing against a demand by black professors for special privileges for or against their proposal for a censorship board to examine all professorial publications for “racism,” as defined by the oversight board, even though Princeton labeled him as such. And I am not an anti-Semite because I think George Soros is a malevolent force.
Through his Open Society Foundation and other allied groups, Soros donated $17 million to what former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy labelled the Progressive Prosecutor Project (Commentary, March 2020). And he contributed $50 million to the ACLU’s anti-incarceration project, whose signature achievement was New York’s no-cash bail law.
Those progressive prosecutors, including Chesa Boudin in San Francisco, Larry Krasner in Philadelphia, Kim Foxx in Chicago, and Kim Gardner in St. Louis, have used their prosecutorial discretion to refuse to prosecute entire classes of cases, e.g., shoplifting under $1,000, and have declined to include elements in the charge sheet that would require minimum prison sentences, such as firearm possession in the commission of the crime. Gardner’s office prosecuted less than 22 percent of charge sheets filed by St. Louis police.
Coupled with no-cash bail laws, the result has been to leave many dangerous, violent criminals on the street, even after repeated arrests and to reverse the police and prosecutorial policies that brought murder in New York City, for instance, down from 2245 in 1991 to 289 in 2018. One analysis concluded that 40 percent of murders nationwide take place in jurisdictions with Soros-backed prosecutors.
Boudin was ousted in America’s most liberal city in a recall vote; Krasner has been impeached by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives; and Gardner reprimanded by the Missouri Supreme Court for “reckless” actions as a prosecutor. Over 15 months, 235 prosecutors resigned in Foxx’s office, and Gardner presided over a 100 percent turnover in her office in her first three years in office. Not by accident was soaring crime the first or second most important issue on many voters’ minds in the recent elections.
I would only add that it is ironic that criticism of Soros should be identified as anti-Semitic given that the only Jewish organizations he has ever supported are virulently anti-Israel. He told a New Yorker interviewer in 1985 that his mother was “quite anti-Semitic and ashamed of being Jewish,” and explained his attraction to universal values as his own attempt to escape his tribal Jewish identity.
Their Real Job Description [Outlook / Issue 936]
Thank you for a wonderful magazine. I especially love reading Rabbi Yonoson Rosenblum’s articles, which are insightful, intellectual, and eloquent.
I was, however, very bothered by the sidebar in his piece this past week — namely how he ended off saying that the job of the chareidi party is to be “making a kiddush Hashem.”
Kiddush Hashem if often defined very loosely, or misdefined for convenience. Just because a Jew is doing something that other people (non-Jews or Jews) don’t like, doesn’t make it a chillul Hashem. Case in point: When shuls and schools continued functioning under draconian Covid rules, which made exceptions for secular functions, it may have been labeled by some as a chillul Hashem, when in fact mesirus nefesh for mitzvos is one of the greatest kiddushei Hashem we can make.
The converse is true as well: Doing something other people like is not automatically a kiddush Hashem.
Allocating funds that bring Jews together across the religious and secular divide or showing concern for the overall good such as environmental work may sound very nice in theory, but what do they have to do with making a kiddush Hashem? Are these Jewish values? Are they spreading the name of Hashem and emphasizing the importance of being a Torah-true Jew?
The chareidi party’s job is to advocate for chareidi values: guarding Shabbos, maintaining limited influence from the secular world in children’s education, and adhering to a mesorah that has protected the Jews of Yerushalayim for centuries. Other observant Jews in the government have proven that they don’t respect those values, so the chareidim need to speak up for what will not be defended otherwise.
The greatest kiddush Hashem is to show people — both secular and religious — that chareidim are upright people who believe in a system that works, and get the funding and assistance to uphold that system, and do so in a way that is kind and respectful.
But publicly knocking chareidi MK’s — to any audience — may well be the opposite of a kiddush Hashem.
M.K. (my initials, not my job title), Jerusalem
Who’s Pulling the Strings? [Text Messages / Issue 935]
Thank you once again, Eytan Kobre, for reminding us of an important yesod of Torah hashkafah. Yes, we need to make our hishtadlus and vote in elections. But after all is said and done, it is Hashem Who decides who will win.
One of my nephews once asked my mother, “Bubby, who do you think is going to be elected president?” My dear mother did not understand his question. “Why, whomever Hashem wants to win, that’s who will win,” was her sincere reply.
This past week’s Mishpacha quoted a political commentator as saying that “Trump got lucky” in 2016 and won the election. This implies that all the policies he enacted during his four years in office were the result of a fluke. This is certainly not Torah hashkafah.
On a related topic, throughout our history, when a decree was issued against Klal Yisrael, the Einei ha’Eidah saw it as a manifestation of the Middas Hadin. This is how Mordechai viewed Haman’s decree and is what prompted him to issue a call for fasting and tefillah. This was the reaction of the Shivtei Kah when Yosef, as leader of Mitzrayim, singled them out for harsh treatment: “Aval asheimim anachnu... — But we are guilty...”
Accordingly, the New York Board of Regents’ attack on our yeshivos should cause us to ask ourselves, “Mah zos asah Elokim lanu?” Why did Hashem allow this to happen? What tikkun do we need to make so that their nefarious intentions should not, chas v’shalom, come to fruition?
When the state issued its first set of guidelines for the yeshivos some three years ago, our middle school menahel at Yeshiva Darchei Torah, Rabbi Dovid Frischman, wanted to awaken rachamei Shamayim by having the talmidim express their ahavas haTorah. To this day, every morning during Shacharis, the middle school minyan joins together in singing the first half of Ahavah Rabbah, in which we plead for the wisdom needed to learn and to teach Hashem’s heilige Torah.
Perhaps individually and collectively, we can find ways to enhance kevod Shamayim and kevod haTorah. Before that, we need to internalize that while our askanim do their hishtadlus, and we are profoundly grateful to them for that, ultimately it is Hashem Who will decide whether this gezeirah will be annulled.
Rabbi Shimon Finkelman
When the Left is Right [The Beat / Issue 934]
I was disappointed in Mr. Gedalia Guttentag’s very measured and limited criticism of Itamar Ben Gvir. Mr. Guttentag reserved much harsher words for Ben Gvir critics “emerging from the left,” which he said “we utterly reject.”
I side with those who condemn Ben Gvir for his “racist, extreme” embrace of Meir Kahane, and, at least until more recently, of Baruch Goldstein. It has been widely reported that Ben Gvir hung a picture of Goldstein in his home, and that he eventually removed it for political reasons.
While Mr. Guttentag concedes that gedolim have shunned “strong-arm nationalism” as “dangerous,” I think the problem with price tag attacks and other forms of terrorism against Arab civilians is much deeper.
Consider the words of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein z”l, one of the gedolim of the Religious Zionist camp who Ben Gvir purports to represent, written about Baruch Goldstein: “A person, whatever his former merits may have been, departed This World while engaged in perpetrating an act of awful and terrible slaughter, tevach ayom venora, and thereby, beyond the crime itself, desecrated the name of Heaven, trampled upon the honor of Torah and mitzvot, soiled and sullied the image of Knesset Yisrael, and endangered the future of settlement in Judah, Samaria, and Gaza.” (Leaves of Faith, Volume 2)
I think we need to be open-eyed about the dangers of including someone like Ben Gvir in the government and not be afraid to call him out, even if that means acknowledging that the left might be correct once in a while.
Rabbi Micah Segelman
These Are Our Struggles Now [Growth Curve Serial]
I am in honest shock about the negative vibes people feel toward the Growth Curve serial. While it is not my domain to pasken sh’eilos and to determine if there is indeed a breach of shemiras halashon because the story takes place on a specific street, I think people are burying their heads in the sand.
Life is about challenges and struggle and gray areas. Yes, even frum people are human and struggle! One character struggles with an unavailable husband in shanah rishonah, one with his dependency on his job. The wife in the serial is a true tzadeikes who struggles with how to deal with her husband’s dependency.
I saw no portrayal of iPhones or lack of tzniyus in the story. Perhaps challenges were of a different nature 10, 20 years ago, but this is what people are struggling with now and it gives chizuk to others to read about it. To pretend these issues don’t exist does a disservice to everyone.
I personally hope the series continues!
Enjoying Growth Curve
See the Beauty [Growth Curve Serial]
We are writing to you as fellow Yidden living in Ramat Eshkol, part of the “here for now” crowd, if you will. Nowadays, baruch Hashem, there is a wider range of families that are choosing with great sacrifice to spend the beginning years of their marriage and possibly way beyond in Yerushalayim to learn and grow.
Yes, many of them aren’t holding by learning during bein hasedarim, yes many of them have filtered smartphones, and yes, many of them may not be dressed according to Meah Shearim standards of tzniyus. You mentioned this affecting your children’s chinuch. But isn’t this the very essence of what it means to be mechanech children? To give them the tools to be strong yarei Shamayim and bnei Torah in our very colorful world?
Did you know that no less than 20 years ago most of the residents of Ramat Eshkol were non-observant Jews? We encourage you to see the beauty of living in a diverse community; as Chazal say, you can be “lomed mikol adam.” Once that is internalized, you will see and feel how true it really is!
Unfortunately, it sounds like you are very much caught up with a specific image of Yiddishkeit, and those who don’t fit your ideal vision of what it means to be a true erliche Yid. Yerushalayim is the most penimiyusdik place in the world; what better place to live and learn than the land which we are lucky enough to be residing in. Do we honestly think the Eibeshter wants to look down on Ramat Eshkol and see this kind of attitude in his children? Hashem wants Klal Yisrael to see the beauty in each other, look past those external differences, respect each other for who we are and where we’re holding in our avodas Hashem, which is between each individual and the Eibeshter.
A classic Ramat Eshkol couple, just here for now
Your Kids Are Doing Great [Growth Curve Serial]
I’m enjoying Blimi Rabinowitz’s serial a lot.
To the letter written from this past week who thinks the story should be discontinued because she has kids in Ramat Eshkol, unless a story is based in Antarctica, there will always be readers who live or have kids living in the location of the story. The stories are fiction, and definitely don’t reflect on every person living in that area.
So I’m sure your kids are doing great in Ramat Eshkol, and unless their names are Benny and Tziporah, they have three kids, and work in Ner Olam, then the story isn’t about them.
Respect All Growth [Growth Curve Serial]
I want to thank Blimi Rabinowitz for the stunning story she is weaving in Growth Curve. As a woman in a similar stage of life as Tziporah, it is fascinating to watch her life, Benny’s struggles, and the multifaceted dynamics that play into building a healthy self-worth, and in turn a happy marriage and home.
As a woman living in Ramat Eshkol, I want to describe my viewpoint about this beautiful place we call home.
The name “Ramat Eshkol” is often used to describe a larger area including Ramat Eshkol, Machal, Maalot Dafna, and Arzei Habirah. These areas encompass a plethora of Jewry, including many different types of Americans in various stages of life.
There are those who are here for a year or two, as an extended honeymoon. They are in shanah rishonah, working to get to know each other and set up a home in a foreign country. Maybe the wife is in school, maybe she is working American hours, maybe they are fully supported and she is bored out of her wits. All those who remember their shanah rishonah would be compassionate and honest to offer some kindness and empathy for the challenges that year or two comes along with.
Then are those who are trying to make it work for even a few more years. Perhaps they are pushing double strollers, working many hours, and thanking Hashem for the privilege of building their family’s foundation on this holy soil.
And there are those who made it work long-term, putting forth tremendous effort to plant their family in this land for good. They deserve much credit for the enormous work it takes to take on such a feat.
My point in describing these types of Americans is to demonstrate that there is no one heading under which we can lump all “young American couples.” Each couple is so individual and can fall under any of the previously described categories and the spectrum that lies between them.
If you walk on Paran on a given afternoon, you will definitely see some couples “lunching and laughing,” as you would in any community. What you don’t see is the thousands of men who are learning while their wives are working, taking care of their children, and running their homes. It is easy to focus on the negative, as that is thrown in our faces. The authentic beauty is often not out there for show.
A.Z. writes, in her letter about this serial, “I mourn the days of old when the thrill of shanah rishonah was knowing our husbands were learning bein hasedarim, not sipping iced coffee on Paran.” I am honestly bewildered by that statement. Were all the shanah rishonah woman who lived in Yerushalayim 20 years ago such selfless people that they were happy (thrilled!) if their husbands did not come home bein hasedarim? I am sure there were and are a select few tzidkaniyos (not martyrs) out there, but I think we can agree that generally a woman in shanah rishonah wants to spend time with her new husband.
Statements such as these can leave a young wife feeling very discouraged. The bar is set way beyond her visibility.
Yes, we sometimes need our husbands to come home bein hasedarim, and we even sometimes need them to “sip iced coffee on Paran” with us. We value his learning, we value his Torah, and we also want to spend time with him.
Women, and people in general, need encouragement, not lamentations. They say each generation has struggles the previous one cannot fathom; Can we respect the new generation for their struggles? Perhaps we can applaud a woman for the time she sent her husband out in the morning even though she was in the throes of morning sickness. We can commend her for greeting him with a hot supper when she barely got through bath time. And maybe we can just tell her that she is incredible for giving up multiple comforts back home so her husband can shteig in Eretz Yisrael.
I am completely in agreement with you that it is wrong for people to lower the tzniyus standards of a community. I think we can also agree that this is sadly a phenomenon that the world is dealing with across the globe as morality breaks down and this filters into our insular communities. But do we need to write off a whole sect of growing, trying, aspiring people because their struggles may look different than ours?
Let’s work to build our homes from the inside, so that they can withstand whatever storms brew out there. And you know what? I’m sure that young couple you see would very much appreciate a friendly word, a smile, a Shabbos invitation. Show them the beauty of your home which you built with much mesirus nefesh. Invite them to experience the wholesome lifestyle that you have chosen.
Let’s make this a community where all growth is respected.
Don’t Denigrate My Profession [The Kichels / Issue 933]
While I usually enjoy the Kichels comic, I was disappointed by the ignorant comment proffered by the bespectacled gentleman in the strip, when he said, “No way, you can’t take a baby to a chiropractor.”
First of all, of the seven assorted health professionals mentioned, a chiropractor was the only one that was followed up with such a negative comment.
Sadly, this type of misinformation is not only extremely inaccurate, and certainly based on fallacious biased preconceptions, but is presented in an allegedly amusing context clearly aimed at ridiculing the thought of a baby being treated by a chiropractor.
Contrary to the views of the comic’s authors, children of all ages benefit immensely from chiropractic care. Chiropractic naturally and safely has helped children recover from a wide variety of ailments, including seizures, visual and auditory disturbances, learning disabilities, digestive system issues, and more. One just has to read the literature. I refer your readers to the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association.
In conclusion, I request that the writers of the strip please do adequate research before deciding to denigrate my profession.
Marshall Deltoff DC DACBR FCCR (Can) FEAC, Member, Israeli Chiropractic Society; Past-President, College of Chiropractors of Ontario; Professor of Radiology, Barcelona College of Chiropractic, Karmiel, Israel
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 937)
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